The Truth... What is it?


If a manner of death is not natural, suicidal, accidental, undetermined, or unclassified, then it is homicide, in the sense of vital statistics. And a homicide is the killing of one human by (1) the actions or (2) negligent inactions of another human, whether in criminal or non-criminal ways. There is a spectrum of legally determined categories within this "homicide" manner of death. See this article as to specific designational terms as to the deceased (such as "parricide"), HERE. From a legal-justice standpoint, (1) "murder" and (2) "manslaughter" are designations reserved for deaths caused in criminal (laws were broken) ways by another as part of a (1) malicious act or (2) a non-malicious but illegal/negligent act.

The details making for the degrees of criminal homicide vary from state to state. But, roughly, (1) first degree = a calculated act with malice aforethought; (2) second degree = committed with malice but without premeditation; (3) third degree = a murder which is not 1st or 2nd degree and/or committed during a felonious act not listed in the first degree murder felonies (also,  "depraved heart murder" is considered 3rd degree in some places); and (3) manslaughter is unlawful killing without malice or intent.

"Reckless" means that the accused consciously disregards & ignores a substantial and unjustifiable risk of an adverse outcome. "Wanton" means merciless or inhumane. "Depraved-heart" means a callous disregard for human life...such as just shooting into a passing bus or train.

The below could change according to new judicial opinions or laws and might vary from state to state. But the information is offered in order to show how designations tend to be stratified. And, it should become clear that much time may need to pass from the date of death to the date on which a charge is leveled against the suspect in order to assign the correct/justifiable charge. The hysterically emotional public clamor for a rush to arrest & judgment was spectacular in the first quarter of 2012 case of the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.

[check this classification chart first]

To prove "murder", one must demonstrate that the act of the defendant was done with MALICE in causing the death of another, malice being of 3 varieties:

  1. intent to kill; or,
  2. intent to do great bodily harm (but a death occurred); or,
  3. action reflecting a wanton and willful disregard of the likelihood/risk that the natural tendency or outcome of the defendant's act is to cause death or great bodily harm, that is, a depraved-heart/depraved-mind murder.

It is my personal belief (and many millions of other religious folk worldwide) in the fact that, according to the Biblical Ten Commandments of God (Exodus 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy 5:7-21), no killing (even the fatal shedding of innocent fetal blood) is exempted by the judicial actions of any legal system from possible divine consequences (actions or inactions) of such killing(s).

  • MURDER, first degree: depending on the state, this is a deliberate and premeditated killing (deliberate/premeditated murder); and/or, in some states, killing in the act of an intentional felony (felony murder). Murder which is perpetrated by means of poison, lying in wait, or other willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing, or which is committed in the perpetration, or attempt to perpetrate arson, criminal sexual conduct in first or third degree, robbery, breaking and entering of a dwelling, larceny of any kind, extortion, or kidnapping. Murders set up to look like an accident or suicide may fall in this category.
  • MURDER, second degree: a killing unintentionally but recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme   indifference to the value of human life. A criminal homicide constitutes murder of the second degree when it is committed while defendant was engaged as a principal or an accomplice in the perpetration of a felony.
  • MURDER, depraved-heart/depraved mind: (defined) & (see case, below)
  • MURDER, third degree: a killing in the heat of passion and/or murder not qualifying as first or second degree.
  • MURDER-suicide: 29 June issue of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: On June 28 of 2000, a native Chinese pathology resident, Jian Chen, M. D., shot 4 times and killed Dr. Rodger Haggitt, a long-time, internationally renowned, gastrointestinal pathology teacher, consultant, and friend of ours. This happened in Seattle, Washington, in Dr. Haggitt's office. It is said that Dr. Haggitt worked with his killer as a father-figure and professional mentor. But, as director of the pathology training program, Dr. Haggitt had regretfully declined to award the killer a post-residency Fellowship contract because of sub-optimal performance (for which the killer had been counseled for about a year, without improvement). They had all tried their best to encourage him to apply/move to another program.
  • HOMICIDE by child abuse: (1) 24 Sept. 2000, page B3, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper) carries the story that a mother and her boyfriend have just been charged for the death of her 9 month old son, Jaquan Perry who died on 21 Sept. 2000 from complications of a beating at least 2 days prior. Autopsy showed evidence of healed fractures from previous beatings. (2) 22 September 2009, front page (A1), The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper) carries the story of conviction & 10 year sentence to jail of day-care operator, Willie Ritter, in the death of 9 month old Javon Wilson who was left in a van all day of a hot spring day & died of hyperthermia.
  • Homicide by criminal recklessness: The Atlanta Journal Constitution, 24 June 2000, page A4: Nashville, Indiana. Dorothy Stewart, 71 year old census worker killed by a pack of dogs owned by Wayne Newton and Joann Latvaitis. Investigators charged them with "homicide by criminal recklessness".
  • Homicide by criminal negligence:18 Nov. 2000, page A4, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper): Vail, Colorado. Nathan Hall, now 21 years old, was charged with reckless manslaughter [possible 16 year jail term] for the death of 33 year-old Alan Cobb in 1997. Hall, a ski lift operator at Vail Resort that winter, collided with Cobb while skiing extremely fast in poor ski conditions as Hall left his work shift. Cobb died shortly of head injuries. After 18 hours of deliberation, the jury found Hall guilty, instead, of "criminally negligent homicide". 1 Feb. 2001, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), from Denver, Colorado: Vail ski resort settled a lawsuit by the Cobb family for $300,000. And, Hall was sentenced after his own trial to 90 days in jail and 240 hours of community service, having been "...convicted of negligent homicide...".
  • Homicide by depraved indifference: The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), 12 March 2004, page A5, "Twins' mother refused surgery, faces charges", by Alexandria Sage of AP. Melissa Ann Rowland refused to have a C-section even though one twin showed signs of serious distress...because she did not want a scar. Said to have refused advice of 5 doctors in Salt Lake City, Utah (baby boy delivered dead on 13 January girl alive).
  • FELONY DUI...vehicular homicide: The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), 9 July 2000, page A5: Audrey Kishline, author of "Moderate Drinking: The New Option for Problem Drinkers" and former opponent of Alcoholics Anonymous' style of total abstinence, recently pled guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide. After a binge-drinking episode in March in which she was so intoxicated that she barely remembered climbing into her pickup truck, this 43 year old woman headed the wrong way down an interstate highway near Cle Elum (in central Washington state) and smashed head-on into a car. The wreck killed 38 year old Danny Davis (an electrician) and his 12 year old daughter, LaSchell. Kishline's blood alcohol was three times the legal limit. Though the maximum penalty there is life imprisonment, prosecutors are asking for only 4 + years because she pledges to recant her book and carry out a campaign against drunk driving. [check out Mothers Against Drunk Driving]
  • HOMICIDE, by way of death during an abduction: Larry Gene Bell abducted Shari Faye Smith in 1985 (she suffered from diabetes insipidus), and the decomposed body was found about 5 days later. He also killed Debra May Helmick.
  • HOMICIDE, reckless: 21 March 2009, page A4, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper): In Chardon, Ohio, 41 year old transgender (1993 sex change) wife (Chris Mason, aka Christine Newton-John) of 73 year old James Mason was sentenced 3/20/09 for killing in June 2008 her frail husband with forced swimming & treadmill exercise caught on a surveillance camera.
  • HOMICIDE, reckless with wanton endangerment: 22 September 2009 brought reports of a jury rendering a not-guilty verdict for Coach David Jason Stinson, Pleasure Ridge Park High School football coach in the August 2008 death of player, Max Gilpin, who collapsed during practice. It was charged that Stinson ran the player practices to the point of abuse.
  • HOMICIDE, second degree, reckless: 2 August 2009, page A4, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper): In Wausau, Wis., 47 year old father (Dale Neumann) was convicted in the death of his 11 y/o daughter for whom he prayed rather than seek medical care (she had undiagnosed diabetes).
  • HOMICIDE, in self defense, but with grave recklessness:
  • HOMICIDE, in self-defense (justifiable homicide):
  • MANSLAUGHTER, voluntary:

    12 & 21 Oct. 2000, page A7 & A12, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper): On May 7, 2000, Troy Lee Carlisle and Kenny Peeples had gone on a boating trip on Arkabutla Lake with Kenny's 7 year old stepdaughter and her 4 year old brother. Wearing life jackets, the two children jumped in (or were swept into) the lake and swept away by choppy waves. The two men jumped in, Troy without a life jacket. Troy ended up with 7 year old Dallas Reinhardt's life jacket, and her drowned body was found two days later. Troy was charged with "depraved-heart murder" because he was suspected of placing another person in imminent danger of death. Charges were reduced, and Troy was convicted of the reduced charge of "manslaughter" and later sentenced by Judge George Ready in Hernando, Miss., to the maximum 20 years in prison. Carlisle said he panicked, "I was thinking I was going to die or she was going to die. I didn't really want both of us to die, so I figured I'd take it off her and put it around my arm...but she slipped out of my hand."

    28 & 29 Nov. 2000, page B1 & B3, The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper): On 16 Oct. 1998, Terry Lee Coleman went to the home of Frank Eugene Pevey looking for his estranged wife, Pevey's daughter. Pevey refused to let Coleman in, and Coleman threatened to kill Pevey. A struggle ensued, and Pevey collapsed, complaining of chest pains. Pevey was pronounced dead at Lexington Medical Center. Dr. Joel Sexton performed a forensic autopsy and found that one of the coronary arteries was 98% blocked; and he concluded that the fatal heart attack was brought on by the stress of the situation. Coleman was charged with murder. On 28 Nov. 2000, Coleman submitted a plea of "guilty of voluntary manslaughter and first-degree burglary" with a jail term of 20 years (with parole possible in 17 years).
  • MANSLAUGHTER, in self defense, but with grave recklessness:
  • MANSLAUGHTER, in self defense:
  • MANSLAUGHTER, involuntary: The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), 2 February 2000: Frank Paul Speagle, 22 years old, of Winnsboro, South Carolina became the first person in that state's history charged in the killing of a person by dogs. In December 1999, his two pit bulls attacked and killed John Mickle, 45 years old. Mickle bled to death after the dogs bit him all over his body, tearing off a section of his left leg. A maximum possible sentence is of 11 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. A jury trial found him innocent on 20 Sept. 2000.
  • SUICIDE by Cop: The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), 2 June 2000, front page section A: Richland County Coroner, Frank Barron, ruled the death suicide because 20 year old Eric M. Jones essentially forced officers to shoot him during a short standoff at the Riverview Apartments off Broad River Road. This may have been the first such ruling in South Carolina history.
  • Guilty but mentally ill (for any of the above): The State (Columbia, S. C. newspaper), 15 June 2000: Miles W. Porter, 40 years old, caused a collision that killed 43 year old Arlene Protin in Lexington County, South Carolina. Judge Henry McKellar sentenced Porter to 18 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. Porter is said to suffer from manic depression and entered a plea of "guilty but mentally ill". That means that he will be treated in a prison psychiatric unit until he is fit to be released into the general prison population.
  • Capital punishment death: Though legally allowed in the USA, I consider it a Biblical sin and prohibition because: (1) it takes away the chance for a non-believer to convert to being a born-again believer; (2) the modern society performing the execution is not one governed by a man specifically appointed & anointed by God; and, (3) the modern society is not specifically living as a society for the purpose of working out God's will! In other words (in my personal opinion), Biblical, God-commanded, non-sinful capital punishment is limited to one specific ancient society, Israel. Besides, the USA conviction error rate is too high.
  • Assisted suicide: Pathologist, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, by the end of 1998 acknowledged helping at least 130 ill people commit suicide.
  • Munchhausen syndrome by proxy: This is a situation in which, say, a mother (almost without knowing she is doing it) creates illnesses in a child in order to satisfy a deep, hidden craving for attention. Gail Cutro was an Irmo day care operator who had a child die (FA93-1) which we autopsied in 1993 who died in this way. Children sometimes die of the induced illnesses...a death directly caused by the actions of another.
  • Fetal homicide: this is the deliberate or coincidental killing of the fetus being carried in a woman and in which case that maternal woman did not seek the death of the fetus (as in abortion, below). Examples are Robert Keeler and the baby-girl Vogt case in California (courts ruled that only someone born alive could be killed...state Supreme Court ruled that murder charges could only apply to a fetus older than 7 weeks); as of early 2003, there are fetal homicide laws on the books in a dozen states with "living" defined anywhere from the moment of conception to "quickening"...when mother first feels baby move. In Pennsylvania a women was convicted of murder in about 2002 for causing a romantic rival to miscarry her 15 weeks-old fetus. And there was the 2002-2003 Laci Peterson case & her baby.
  • Abortion: The innocent blood of over 50,000,000 (by 2015) unborn infants has flowed because of their induced deaths in the USA since abortion was society-sanctioned through being "made legal" in 1973 because people persist choosing to believe that unborn infants are yet-undefined "tissue" of the mother (of note: no one can determine when the baby gets its soul [ensoulment]). Yet molecular biologists and others (try thinking about the human genome project) have proven for years that an entirely new human individual...a person...starts at the moment of conception. In May of 2000, "partial birth abortion" (late pregnancy) was even declared legal by the US Supreme Court. Abortions may be legal, but are they not all just Biblical murder?
  • Destruction of a non-blighted embryo: A joint report May 2003 by the Rand Corp. and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology indicates that there are 400,000 frozen embryos (human suspended animation) in the 430 fertility centers in the USA...2.2% are scheduled to be destroyed (2.8% set aside for "research"). Further, were the USA to allow creation of human embryos, then the "use" of such embryos would cause destruction of the embryos.
  • Killed by law enforcement in the line of duty, unavoidable or necessary:
  • Killing of the enemy in a declared war:
  • Accidental killing/manslaughter: By common convention, an unavoidable killing of another person by a sober person responsibly going about his/her business is legally considered to be an accidental manner of death...not homicide. This was one of the types of situations leading to the creation of the "cities of refuge" (Numbers 35:9-34) in the ancient Israel of the Bible.
  • Wrongful death: This term implies/involves a civil action against the alleged "killer" for the purpose of the family of the deceased attempting to recover civil damages.
  • Death by "living will" and/or DNR (do not resusitate)...such as in hospice-like situations: in these situations...clearly covered in personal written legal directions, families and the medical system and society decide not to resuscitate or carry on life-saving/maintaining activities. The person dies a "homicidal death" in that life could have been maintained.
  • Death by declaration of "legally dead": this is always by way of a legal protocol and following medical testing and observation sufficient to meet society's criteria of "legally dead" even though biological life might be sustainable.
  • Death by "living will-like" and/or DNR-like...such as in hospice-like situations without written authority:

     > uncontested...under medical care and with family aware & OK (without admitted protest) and with physician assuring that condition is terminal and patient comatose: this has been a common and classical situation in the medical arena since there has been any organized system of medical care. Patient is allowed to die & any medications for pain or comfort may hasten the process.

     > contested, non-legal...under medical care and with family aware &  with mixed permission by spouse and/or next of kin and with physician assuring that condition is terminal and patient comatose: this has been a common and classical situation in the medical arena since there has been any organized system of medical care. Families may end up in bitter disputes and feelings for years to come because there were firm differences about what to do. This is what living wills, DNR orders, and health care powers of attorney (above) hope to avoid.

     > contested, legal: under medical care and with family aware & into the legal system and with physician assuring that condition is terminal but patient not clearly "at death's door": this has been a rare situation in the medical arena and was brought to public view leading to Easter 2005 with the Terri Schindler Schiavo case. I think that the legal system should (1) require testimony as to the patient's wishes be through a lie detector interview and (2) that the system always err on the side of maintaining life. 
  • Death during a medical mishap: By convention, most of these are considered "natural" because the patient's disease put them into the situation. But, circumstances could be tied directly & clearly enough to the actions or inactions of a practitioner that the death might be ruled an accidental homicide.
  • Death by self abuse or high-risk behavior: By convention, most deaths due to a persons reckless or carefully-considered high-risk behavior are ruled accidental or natural. But didn't (1) the person who knew better & drove drunk, (2) the hopeless alcoholic,  & (3) the Mt. Everest mountain climber cause their own death (suicide)?
  • Death by refusal to thrive: By convention, deaths among terminally ill, hopeless persons who get down to the point that they refuse to eat and drink and then die are listed as natural manner of death.
  • Suicides by others following a connected suicide: One thought-provoking 2014 editorial suggests that one might very distantly consider such a death an unintended homicide when triggered by the fatal, negative influence of the one originally committing suicid!e as a ripple effect of being connected to one who recently committed suicide!...that is, the connectedness of human relationships is powerful. I suscribe, however, to the belief that suicide is not a sane action (and that the deceased had to have been at least momentarily insane...except in an instance such as leaping out of the firey windows of the World Trade Towers when they were attacked).

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(Posted 14 Sept. 1999; latest addition/update 17 March 2017)